The Z Movie to end all Z movies, “Frankenstein’s Daughter” is both a cult classic and a classic piece of cinematic trash. It’s a god awful attempt to take the Frankenstein tale and retro-fit it in to a teen horror drama about coming of age, legacy, and uncomfortable scenes of men aggressively hitting on high school girls. In either case, “Frankenstein’s Daughter” is something of an anomaly, it’s a movie that’s been widely accepted within the genre, but it’s just so painfully bad when you finally experience it.
The grandson of Victor Frankenstein, Oliver, is hiding away as a laboratory assistant for the gentle Professor Morton. While Doctor Morton pursues a pet project, Doctor Frankenstein secretly works his own experiments on his benefactor’s niece, Trudy Morton. Although these experiments temporarily disfigure Trudy’s face and cause her to wander aimlessly at night, they are only a build-up to Oliver’s greater goal of recreating life. With the aid of one of his father’s former assistants, Oliver constructs a female monster from the body parts of various murdered people and begins to deal a horrible fate toward his enemies and rivals.
“Frankenstein’s Daughter” is an incomprehensible mess that’s just teeming with padding, and blatant filler meant to basically run out the clock. The movie is barely eighty minutes and does everything it can to rush to the finish line, even doling out an inexplicable rock music number before the second half is introduced. A lot of “Frankenstein’s Daughter” presents the vague theme of a young girl named Trudy coming to grips with her adolescence and repressed sexuality. This is manifested through her random bouts of lurking in bushes in the middle of the night with a unibrow and horrendous overbite. After being spotted by locals in the neighborhood, she struggles to make sense of the weird attacks.
What do Trudy’s being turned in to a Demon have to do with the goofy Frankenstein monster being stitched together in the basement of her house? What is the ultimate goal for the monster when it’s finally complete? Once we get full glimpses at Trudy the She-Demon, and the goofy excuse of a Frankenstein Monster, the movie becomes less a horror outing and more just a sheer spectacle of awfulness. It’s just two dull monster tales fit in to one tedious feature, clearly made with an eye toward the teen market. “Frankenstein’s Daughter” has almost nothing close to resembling the spirit or essence of the original story or for that matter, a competently made film.
I’m sure there will be value in collecting and keeping the movie for posterity, especially with the new deluxe edition from The Film Detective. Included is an au audio commentary track with author and historian Tom Weaver, Richard E. Cunha: Filmmaker of the Unknown, a brand new retrospective from Ballyhoo Motion Pictures, featuring an archival interview with director Richard E. Cunha, and finally John Ashley: Man from the B’s, a brand new career retrospective once again featuring film historian C. Courtney Joyner. The physical media case comes with a full color booklet with an original essay by author and historian Tom Weaver.